Saturday, October 1, 2016

Programming - October - December 2016


We’re already coming to the final quarter of 2016 – things sure happen fast!

Here are some of the posts I have planned for October, November and December:

I plan three new installments to Project 366;expect that once a month, on a Sunday, I will issue an installment of that project. More on the Project 366 page.

  • Friday Blog and Podcast
    • A trio of montages explore music either inspired or intended for the Stage and Screen – a long-overdue (and nostalgic) survey of the music John Williams composed for the “original” Star Wars Trilogy (NEW PODCAST), stage works by Sibelius (NEW PODCAST) and a montage of works inspired by the works of William Shakespeare (NEW PODCAST).
    • A pair of montages will feed our ongoing Project 366 in later chapters – a re-creation of the “scandalous concert” led by Arnold Schoenberg (a few months before another scandalous ballet performance) in 1913 (NEW PODCAST), and the “Morning, Noon and Night” trilogy of Hayydn symphonies (NEW PODCAST).
    • As we do every year, I plan to have my “Year and Review” and YouTube collage playlist for you to enjoy at the end of 2016
  •  Other Platforms
    • Once Upon the InternetBach Cello suites (PTB) and the piano music of Scott Joplin (PTB)
    • Vinyl’s Revenge – Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (PTB), Giulini conducts Debussy (PTB) and Respighi’s Roman Trilogy (PTB)
    • Opera – La Bohème by… Leoncavallo (OTF)

I will update this page if programming changes in the coming weeks, and also look for unannounced “repatriated” posts from our PTB and OTF series.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

The Ordinary of the Mass

No. 231of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player f ound on this page.


The Mass (Latin: Missa), is a choral composition that sets portions of the Eucharistic liturgy (principally that of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism) to music. Most Masses are settings of the liturgy in Latin, but some are written in spoken languages - in English for the Church of England for instance.

Masses can be a cappella, or they can be accompanied by instrumental obbligatos up to and including a full orchestra. Many Masses, especially later ones, were never intended to be performed during the celebration of an actual mass – take, for example, Leonard Bernstein’s Mass which interweaves Latin (and common English) Mass text with “performance” sections.

We won’t spend time in discussing the liturgical text and its part in the Mass ritual. Suffice it to say that a distinction is made between texts that recur for every mass celebration (ordinarium, ordinary), and texts that are sung depending on the occasion (proprium, proper) – a good example being for the Requiem Mass.

A Missa tota ("full Mass") consists of a musical setting of the five sections of the ordinarium: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus/Benedictus and Agnus Dei.

The earliest musical settings of the Mass are Gregorian chant. The different portions of the Ordinary came into the liturgy at different times, with the Kyrie probably being first (perhaps as early as the 7th century) and the Credo being last (it did not become part of the Roman mass until 1014). In the early 14th century, composers began writing polyphonic versions of the sections of the Ordinary and the musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass became the principal large-scale composition of the Renaissance. Claudio Monteverdi composed Masses in stile antico (“the old style”), the Missa in illo tempore was published in 1610 and it opens our trio of “mass examples”.

The 18th-century Viennese mass combines operatic elements from the cantata mass with a trend in the symphony and concerto to organize choral movements. Many of Mozart's masses are in missa brevis (brief mass, or short mass) form, as are some of Haydn's early ones.
As an example of the classical era, I retained one of Mozart’s most popular masses, which likely acquired the nickname "Coronation" at the Imperial court in Vienna in the early nineteenth century, after becoming the preferred music for royal and imperial coronations as well as services of Thanksgiving.

Pope St. Pius X (1835-1914) initiated many regulations reforming the liturgical music of the Mass in the early 20th century. He felt that some of the Masses composed by the famous post-Renaissance composers were too long and often more appropriate for a theatrical rather than a church setting. He advocated primarily Gregorian plainchant and polyphony. Stravinsky’s Mass exhibits the austere, Neoclassic, anti-Romantic aesthetic that characterizes his work from about 1923 to 1951 and also happens to be a fine example of a work that achieves Pius’ aims.

I think you will love this music too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

OTF - Schubert's Winterreise

This is my post from this week's Once or Twice a Fortnight.

Today’s topic is a “glorious pairing”. One of my first posts of my many blogging projects was an overview of Glenn Gould and Bach’s Goldberg Variations – a “glorious pairing” in its own right, that is to say an unavoidable association between a great artist and a great work he or she has made their own. As Gramophone’s James Jolly wrote in 2015, “[few] singers had such an intense relationship with a piece of music as the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau had with Schubert’s Winterreise”.

Winterreise (Winter Journey) is a song cycle setting 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller to music. It is the second of Schubert's two great song cycles on Müller's poems (with Die schöne Müllerin, D. 795). Both were originally written for tenor voice but are frequently transposed to suit other vocal ranges – the precedent being established by Schubert himself, as he performed these cycles with his friend, the baritone singer Johann Michael Vogl during the mid-1820s. Vogl, a literary and philosophical man accomplished in the classics, came to regard Schubert's songs as 'truly divine inspirations, the utterance of a musical clairvoyance.' 

Fast-forward 150 years…

Music and poetry have a common domain, from which they draw inspiration and in which they operate: the landscape of the soul. Together, they have the power to lend intellectual form to what is sensed and felt, to transmute both into a language that no other art can express. The magic power that dwells in music and poetry has the ability ceaselessly to transform us.
(Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau)
According to the vintage recording site discogs, including re-editions, there are as many as 42 recordings available of DFD singing these 24 songs. Commercially, he recorded the work seven times (I read other places eight and even ten, but who’s counting…): in 1955, 1963 and 1972 with Gerald Moore, in 1966 with Jörg Demus later he partnered with, Daniel Barenboim, Alfred Brendel and in a final version in 1990 with Murray Perahia just after the baritone turned 65. There are, of course, numerous live recordings, performances not originally planned for release on disc: these include one from 1948 with Klaus Billing, a 1952 performance with Hermann Reutter and one the following year with Hertha Klust. 

Clearly there are many recordings of DFD singing Winterreise to choose from and in order to keep to the “spirit” of Public Domain sharing, I have uploaded a “Live” performance of DFD and Gerald Moore from a French Radio recording at the Pablo Casals Festival in Prades made on July 3rd 1955. 

In a quirky twist of fate, the performance venue suffered a momentary power failure during ‘Der Lindenbaum’, and the set ‘borrowed’ the track from the 1953 Berlin Radio recording made (in a noticeably different acoustic) with pianist Hertha Klust which I referred to earlier. As you might expect, this Winterreise has much in common with the 1955 EMI studio recording. 

According to reviewer Richard Wigmore, “[…]Fischer-Dieskau gives a performance unsurpassed in its abandon, its taunting bitterness and its massive, youthful anguish. No singer before him had ever probed the text as searchingly, or used such a vast palette of colours. True, there are moments of what some will hear as melodramatic over-emphasis. But more than in that 1955 studio recording, the startling extremes of expression – say, the hysterical anguish at the climax of ‘Der greise Kopf’ – here seem completely spontaneous. Gerald Moore is as always a perceptive partner, though the rather unfocused piano recording does his beautiful cantabile touch no favours. pNonetheless, this ] performance demands to be heard, and not just by F-D completists.”


Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Winterreise (Winter’s Journey), D. 911 [op. 89]
Cycle of 24 lieder based on poems by Wilhelm Müller 

No. 1 Gute Nacht: Fremd bin ich eingezogen

No. 2 Wetterfahne: Der Wind spielt mit der Wetter fahne
No. 3 Gefrorne Tränen: Gefrorne Tropfen fallen von meinen Wangen ab
No. 4 Estarrung: Ich such im Schnee vergebens nach ihrer Tritte Spur
No. 5 Der Lindenbaum: Am Brunnen vor dem Tore
No. 6 Wasserflut: Manche Trän' aus meinen Augen
No. 7 Auf dem Flusse: Der du solustig rauschtest
No. 8 Rückblick: Es brennt mir unter beiden Sohlen
No. 9 Irrlicht: In die tiefsten Felsen gründe lockte mich ein Irrlicht hin
No. 10 Rast: Nun merk ich erst, wie müd ich bin
No. 11 Frühlingstraum: Ich träumete von bunten Blumen

No. 12 Einsamkeit: Wie eine trübe Wolke durch heitre Lüfte geht
No. 13 Die Post: Von der Strasse her ein Posthorn klingt
No. 14 Der greise Kopf: Der Reif hat einen weissen Schein mir
No. 15 Die Krähe: Eine Krähe war mit mir
No. 16 Letzte Hoffnung: Hie und da ist an den Bäumen manches bunte Blatt zu sehn
No. 17 Im Dorfe: Es bellen die Hunde
No. 18 Der stürmische Morgen: Wie hat der Sturm zerrissen des Himmels graues Kleid
No. 19 Täuschung: Ein Lieht tanzt freundlich vor mir her
No. 20 Der Wegweiser: Was vermeid ich denn die Wege
No. 21 Das Wirtshaus: Auf einen Totenacker hat mich mein Weg gebracht
No. 22 Mut: Fliegt der Schnee mir ins Gesicht
No. 23 Die Nebensonnen: Drei Sonnen sah ich am Himmel stehn
No. 24 Der Leiermann: Drüben hinterm Dorfe steht ein Leiermann

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Gerald Moore (1-23) and Hertha Klust (24), piano
Radio broadcast recordings, 1955 (1-23) and 1953 (24)
INA Mémoire Vive IMV058

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Kairos Quartet

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

A couple of years ago, I shared an all-Beethoven chamber music playlist in a Once Upon the Internetpost emanating from Central Washington University, whose faculty shared a lot of their tracks on the old MP3.COM. 

As I dug through more of my old downloads for more old Internet finds, I found a few more CWU tracks, and I plan to share some more of these in the coming months.

According to their website the Kairos Quartet, established in 1993, has been the quartet-in-residence at Central Washington University since 1998. “Kairos” is a Greek word for non-chronological time, those special moments when a child is at play or artists are absorbed in their work, when time seems suspended.

The members, all on faculty at the university, have extensive chamber music experience and have toured internationally. In addition to traditional concert performances, the Kairos Quartet is committed to educational outreach and to performing in unlikely venues in which they seek to break down the barriers between audience and performers.As is often the case with quartets, the composition f the group has undergone change through the years, but two members from the quartet in today's playlist are still part of the ensemble - violinist Carrie Rehkopf and cellist John Michel (who I believe are husband and wife).

As I said a few months ago in a post on "Amateur night", there can be blemishes in any live performance, especially when guests join an established group. However, the result is often satisfying, as it's about the concert experience.

Happy Listening!

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
String quartet in F Major, MR 35

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828)
String quintet (2 violins, viola and 2 cellos) in C Major, D. 956 

Carrie Rehkopf & Marcia Kaufmann ,violins
Scott Hosfeld, viola
John Michel, cello
David Geber, cello (D. 956)

Downloaded from MP3.COM - 12 March 2002